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Matthew Mokoena

Be servant to all, master to self, like rain… pouring on both the just n the unjust… Change is here, now… WATCH…

On The Kwela Side Of The PO. Box

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The thoughts in my head, prior to that moment, had become mantra’s, chants, slogans tagged on city walls, shrilling screams overcome by a sudden and overwhelming feeling of wanting… No, needing to be imbued, nurtured by the elaborately full breasts of art. The mind burdened with myopic ideals, gave into the moment of decision. ”I can’t miss this show, can’t afford to miss one of SA’s sickest lyricists twice in a row.” Besides, this brother, he is the push to many a poets flow. First though, convincing the Mrs.  After an exasperating taxi ride, a 5 minute sprint to a show I was technically 2 hours late for, I arrive at Tings n Times only to find Tumi’s (Boitumelo Molekane of the volume) alumni irritably floating about, covered by the gloomy shadow of forbidden hours, the slimy dust of office politics and lecture room doctrines, the very same evils plaguing my mind when I am not at church or at sessions (they have clearly come here for a wash down… musical ablution.) After spotting the obvious faces; you know them, those you do not have to dream up like lotto numbers, the ones your grandmother does not have to say BINGO, BINGO at upon sight, the “just say when and where and I’m there” faces.  We get the general greetings out of the way and right then I spot him, yes him, the ever so evasive face of that six piece band I would SSSSOOOO love to hate. Kwelagobe, commonly known as PO Box, Sekele.

“Ya kwela, I’ve been sending you countless e-mails and still no response in terms of when we’re doing the interview.” The guy shaking my hand is almost as I had imagined he’d be like offstage, ghetto-cool. I’m talking the type of cool you couldn’t possibly drag to the office… even in a cooler box, get what I mean. The type you could refer to as ‘ntja ya mme’or ‘nja yami,’ (loosely translated, my mothers dog or my dog in Sesotho and IsiZulu respectively) without them feeling you’ve just insulted the most paramount figure in their existence, a mother… or them, depending on the size of the ego. Brother man offers a tired apology (NO, literally. Tired as a result of physical exhaustion) we chat for a few more minutes before he promises me “an over chat/e-mail interview.” This eventually took place 2 weeks later. “Boy do I have a long way to go with these friendly famous people, eish.” Besides, how does one pull off an interview with an insanely expressive personality… over the computer? Oh well, I do hope the ends DO NOT justify the means

Kwelagobe “PO Box” Sekele

Born 

 

Soweto , Meadowlands Clinic
Hometown 

 

Mofolo Central, Soweto
Memberships/affiliations 

 

The Live Without Fear movement, Kwani Experience and Jeli World, Deafine Music, African Music Network
Inspirations 

 

My Life inspires me. in fact it’s not special.. it’s just life.. It inspires me to do what I do. I’m not sure if other people inspire or influence me.. maybe both..
Relationship status 

 

In a relationship…
Favourite
Poets 

 

Kabelo Mofokeng, The Last Poets
MC’s 

 

Krs, Bhubesi, Tumi, Pharaoh Monch, H.H.P, Jack Parrow
Musicians 

 

Bheki Mseleku, Mpumi Dlamini, Favi, Omar Sosa, Siya Makuzeni, Language 12, Trompies, Spikiri
Crews/Bands 

 

Kwani Experience, 340ml, Tidal Waves (He obviously hasn’t heard of Travellin Blak… yet”,)
Verse/Quote 

 

LIVE without fear
Books Appetite for Self Destruction(the spectacular crash of the record industry in the digital age) by Steve Knoppel, Rabble Rouser for peace (biography of Desmon Mpilo Tutu) by Johan Allen, Black Pen by the Black Pen Collective, Still Grazing (Autobiography of Hugh Masekela)…

One factor I found to be interesting about P.O, interesting enough to warrant my convictions to interview him, was his incessantly copious thirst for more knowledge of music. His passion for music oozes through his facebook page (those lucky enough to be ‘friends’ can view) where constant updates on his ‘song/group of the moment’ avidly greet the reader.  I myself only got to know of the late Jazz great, Winston Mankunku Ngozi, after hearing his name mentioned by P.O on one of Kwani Experiences tracks (Track 4 on the Live after Death album.) A pity considering that Mankunku’s musical prowess, though more than worthy to be broadcast across the generations, never quite went ‘Commercial‘, but we have unfortunately all come to know the “some will have to be Late in order to be Great” syndrome.

The interview

It should first be said that I found it challenging to decide exactly which portions to leave out, so I’ll start here and end there”, Ok, I’ll start somewhere in the middle of the bio.

Matt: you are entitled NOT to answer this one, but I hope you feel free enough to type openly… RELATIONSHIP STATUS…”, (NOTE: Consciousness is NOT a tabloid) **,

Kwela: In a relationship…

Now, when interviewing someone who is in the public eye, any self respecting interviewer leaves such responses at the final point of the ellipses. I mean, what more could a brother want to know?

Matt: good enough”,… give us your favorite poets/mc’s/musicians/crews/books/authors all in one go.

Had I known what exactly was about to hit me, I would have jumped off the boat right here. To say this man knows his music would be an understatement. I had to Google (forgive me Father) some of the artists that I am positive most of my readers have not heard of either. Important to note though, is how all of my interviewed Spoken Minds seem to have the name “Tumi” under their list of favorites. Now tell me why this man has never won the award. (Visit the table above to check out how Kwela responded to this.)

Matt: cool saan, let’s get to it… “Jeli World?” is the name derived from the western Africans Kora music by the griots or Jeli as they are referred to? (Description: Jelis are the Manding nomadic praise singers and master instrumentalists of MaliSenegalGuinea and the Gambia, whose traditions date back to the 13th century. They sing epic songs and family histories.

Another word used to describe jeli is griot, a term used by the French.)  http://worldmusiccentral.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=jeli

Kwela: Yeah…the Diabates, Seck, Cissokos… (Google them)”,

Matt: I obviously have much to learn about music… I’ve noticed just how much passion you have for music as a whole (advantage of FB)”, infact, I only knew of Mankunku after listening to Kwani, so your music shows to be educative as well. The other day u mentioned Language 12, what type of music do they do?

Kwela:  it’s hard to categorize, but some Nu-jazz, Electro-Acoustic and ‘Other’ of sort…www.myspace.com/language12

Matt: Besides music, what else does Kwela do? You mentioned the African Music Network, what’s that about?

Kwela: It’s a website I’m putting up in a few months time. An online platform for African music & artists…can’t say much though…I signed things..i’m bound..

kind of…

I also do online campaigns for a list of clients (I’m not gonna say who) and I’m involved in event productions..

like the Wazwa Concerts starting in April at Bassline..

Matt: for the latter (Wazwa concerts) are artists allowed to approach you/the organizers or do you do all the assessments yourselves.

Kwela: I guess both ways..

we not snobs, but we want quality at the same time..

Matt: Now, I asked YOU for this interview because the 1st time Kwani hit the circuit, I was an upcoming poet… and many like me had a handful of poets ‘to look up to.’ when did Kwela start writing and do you consider yourself a poet or mc?

Kwela: in the late 90s I started writing..

I’d say I’m an MC..because that way..I’m a Master of Ceremonies, Rapper and Poet in one..

Po Box is a rapper…and rap is RhythmAndPoetry

Matt: how do you feel about writers who do not read and do you share the same sentiments with those who feel that “music is going down the drain?”

Kwela: I think throughout history there’ve been periods where there’s a rise in creativity and a low and both..nothing new under the sun..we must just keep making music..whether it’s wack or cool..about writers who don’t read…reading is very important..good for the brain, vocab, info etc but some people are just naturals..they learn best through observation..i guess if all our heads were hidden in books the world would be boring..but i promote reading..

Matt: I feel your point on reading… a lot of artists rely on their senses first and all else is secondary… though I do feel to be a poignant artist, Literature should be a building block in your experience. I saw “Take Away”(a duo comprising of Kwela and Bhubesi) pics on FB, watagwaan?

kwela: which ones?

Matt: the ones in your pictures morena, you got chef gear on and you are wearing your helmet with a mustache. my Q is actually this, are you planning on releasing something anytime soon?

Kwela: yes..my solo…

the Take Away project is just something that caught me by surprise…

I co-produced it..the rappers are Stan Cooke(Bhubesi) and Wasabi (Kwela.)

www.takeawayworldwide.blogspot.com

www.myspace.com/takeaways

www.myspace.com/takeawaysa

Matt: solo release date?

Kwela: not confirmed..still tied to some shitty contract..but a single maybe end of April..

that’s the plan..

Matt: kwela, let me wrap it up real nice. The Spoken Mind platform is meant for the Conscious ilk to converse (question, give props and other crit.) So it would be great if I have you promising the masses that you will participate in such exercises with them? and as a final word from me, many young and maybe ‘not so young’ people aspire to be where you are at now, with K.E and as an individual. I know a few bands that look up to the work you guys are doing… do you have anything you’d like to say to them?

Kwela: LIVE without fear..

and be yourself because only you can perfect you..

bless

Now, this is how you do an interview whose mere technological confines debilitate the senses. You speak of a writers block; now imagine a creative block as a whole. An un-prismatic prison that bars all artistic creativity. Now imagine that prison closing in on you, the result of which will be creative death. There’s only one way to escape child, let us give you the keys to your emancipation. A friend of mine once wrote, “they say education is the key to success, here’s your key, it doesn’t fit… now what?”

Invite Kwelagobe PO Box Sekele on Facebook, whether he accepts your request or not however is NONE of my business”, On this platform however, you are at liberty to bombard this man with questions, you have a pass to throw those backstage props or crits at him. In fact, if you are the type who’s been constantly pervaded by PO’s rhymes/lines in your sleep, this is your opportunity to ask him, “dude, how do you do that.” On the other hand, if you feel his game could be stepped up a notch, feel consciously free to share your thoughts, only because “Free Minds can free minds.”

Dankie…

…droW(**m)att…

Of “consciousness.co.za… It’s a lifestyle.”

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